Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)

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"Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)"
Van Halen - Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do).jpg
Single by Van Halen
from the album Balance
Released December 28, 1994
Recorded 1994
Length 5:56
Label Warner Bros.
Songwriter(s) Eddie Van Halen, Michael Anthony, Alex Van Halen, Sammy Hagar
Producer(s) Bruce Fairbairn

"Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do)" is a rock song by Van Halen from their 1995 album Balance. It is one of five singles issued for the album, and was the only one to reach #1 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart, where it stayed for three weeks.


The song's main theme is about the power of universal love.

The story about the suicide of Nirvana's frontman, Kurt Cobain, is also told in the song. The lyrics "Is it right to take the easy way" and ends with "I can't tell you what's right for you" with the bridge, repeated towards the end of the song, saying "I see the damage done, yeah/oh Lord, I heard the shotgun", references the story.[1]

Sammy Hagar says in his autobiography that he wanted the song to be uplifting, for the chorus to be 'I wanna show you what love can do', but that his relationship with the Van Halen brothers was becoming strained and that they were very critical of the lyrical treatment, wanting something with more attitude. Hagar says he believes that people in trouble can be saved, that Cobain could have been saved by the people around him, but that they must have just 'let him go for some reason'. He wanted the song to be about hope, not what it eventually became due to internal criticism.

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song was shot in December 1994; it was completed on December 12.

The video tells of the young husband from the video of "Can't Stop Lovin' You" during his prison sentence. The scenes show him and his friend doing a store robbery, along with his arrest, sentence to prison, his time there, activities and his brawl with an Asian inmate which ends with a brutal wrestle by the prison authorities and inmates who are close friends of the Asian inmate. The young man is then comforted by a man who visits him and the last scene of the video shows that he's due to be released. Interspersed are victims who, along with neon signs, display the attacks they survived such as that of gunshot, drive-by shooting, sexual assault, knifing, and more while the band is shown playing the song.


  1. ^ Chilvers, C. J. (1 January 2001). "The Van Halen Encyclopedia". iUniverse. Retrieved 10 December 2016. 

External links[edit]